2007 Suzuki XL-7

2007 Suzuki XL-7

Autumn in the region of Near North Ontario is a treat for the senses. As late summer’s warmth slowly gives way to the crisp onset of fall, leaves transform from lush shades of green to brilliant hues of red, orange and yellow. Change is in the air and it takes on a tangible quality that I welcome as my favorite time of year.

The previous generation Suzuki XL-7 was a terrific all-around sport utility vehicle with a proven track record for reliability and a comfortable exterior shape. If there was one knock against the vehicle, it was that it didn’t stand out from the crowd.

Not that blending in is necessarily a bad thing. There are certain situations where anonymity is considered to be a requirement for success. In sports for example, the mark of a good referee or umpire is to strictly enforce the rules of the game without ever becoming a noticeable part of it. When it comes to the highly competitive automotive market, however, anonymity is most assuredly not a path to the winners circle.

The all-new 2007 Suzuki XL7 takes a major step forward in the process of turning a practical but rather boring looking vehicle into something more compelling, without sacrificing the convenience of space and good design.

It is both larger in size and more powerful than last year’s XL-7, (notice the slight difference in nomenclature used for the ’07 model) offers seating for seven and contemporary styling based on an extended wheelbase version of GM’s Theta crossover platform.

Powered by a 3.6-liter 24-valve DOHC V6, the 2007 Suzuki XL7 delivers 252 horsepower at 6,500 RPM and 243 lb-ft at 2,300 RPM. Quiet and responsive, this engine is also fuel efficient and fun to drive. Step on the gas as you pull out to pass a slow moving transport truck and the V6 easily overtakes with only a minimal amount of engine noise.

Equipped with a 5-speed automatic transmission, shifts are smooth and barely perceptible. Though most of the buyers for this vehicle may never use it, the new Suzuki XL7 also provides the option to shift gears manually with what is termed manumatic control.

As you would expect when considering the purchase of a new CUV, (Cross Over Vehicle) all-wheel-drive is available. In the case of the Suzuki XL7, this means electronically controlled on-demand AWD.

Some may question why AWD is an option on the new XL7 and not standard equipment. The rationale, according to Suzuki, is that not all consumers want AWD. Many are quite content with 2WD technology, considering a CUV a satisfactory alternative to the multi-passenger van and less as an off-road warrior capable of tackling dirt roads without so much as breaking a sweat.

Bringing the vehicle to rapid and controlled stop is made easier with the help of four-wheel disc brakes and standard four-wheel, four-channel EBD, (electronic brake-force distribution).

The new 2007 Suzuki XL7 provides smooth handling and a comfortable ride even in the worst weather conditions, (first-hand experience talking here).

In front, a fully independent MacPherson Strut suspension setup delivers crisp turn-ins, while in the rear a multi-link suspension design with coil springs and Nivomat load-leveling shock absorbers do a superb job of keeping the vehicle pointed in the right direction. Steering is power-assisted rack and pinion.

Exterior styling is fresh and offers good visibility through the front and side windows. The rear window, however, provides a restricted view given its rather smallish size and the standard rear headrests found on the 3rd row seat. Mirrors are large and well placed and the front corners of the hood are easily distinguished even when tackling paved corners on a twisty Muskoka, Ontario country road.

Inside, the 2007 Suzuki XL7 rewards both driver and passengers with a spacious cabin, excellent seats and all the creature comforts we have come to expect from a much more expensive vehicle.

A 4-spoke steering wheel offers cruise control adjustment and stereo fine-tuning, along with good road feel and a comfortable grip, especially when covered in stitched leather.

Gauges are easy to read and logically placed in the driver’s line of vision. White on black dials, with bright red needles indicate speed, rpm, engine temperature and fuel usage, as well as a host of diagnostic advise on the vehicles overall performance.

Centrally located are the optional DVD based navigation system, controls for the HVAC system, the AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio system with 6 speakers and power window controls located on opposite sides of the gear lever.

In my opinion driver and passenger side window switches are better suited on the doors where they are easily accessible and never require the coordination of having to reach around a gear lever to activate the opposite side windows. Suzuki has chosen instead to follow the same window control design as laid out in the Saturn VUE, Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent. All three are close cousins of the new 2007 Suzuki XL7.

My test vehicle was equipped with the optional leather seating surfaces and faux wood finish dash and door panel accents. Though I found the quality of the wood grain somewhat less than perfect, it does add a nice touch to the interior and a certain sense of cache.

Seating space is excellent, even in the 3rd row where most adults fear to tread. An optional 7” DVD screen is available for viewing from the 2nd and 3rd row seats, as are rear heat controls and three 12-volt accessory outlets in the cargo area.

It seems the winds of change are blowing at Suzuki these days. With the introduction of the 2007 XL7, the CUV market has a new and much improved vehicle over last year’s model.

Bright days are ahead for this company, what with the all new SX4 hitting dealer showrooms this fall as well. Available in a range of attractive colours and trim options and starting at just $30,995 it offers great value at a reasonable price.

Jeff’s note: So much for predictions I guess.

2007 Suzuki XL7
Wheelbase: 2,857 mm
Overall length: 5,008 mm
Transmission: 5-speed Automatic
Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion
Braking: Four-wheel disc Air bags: 2 (front), side curtain
Fuel economy city/highway:
FWD: 12.9/9.0 L/100 km
AWD: 13.5/9.5 L/100 km
MSRP: $ 30,995- $ 37,995

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